Today’s entrepreneurs who want to reduce the cost of hospital equipment down to less than $1,000 (£736) per item and ensure that girls around the world have access to a technical education have two things in common.
They’re focused on innovating for a positive social purpose, and they’re women.
They told us their stories as part of a special series from the Sky News Daily podcast with Dermot Murnaghan on the impact of women on society.
Sophia Mahfouz is a British Afghan whose family fled the country in 1999 after her village was bombed when the Taliban first took over.
She told the Sky News Daily podcast how, after seven years in a refugee camp in Peshawar, her family made their way to England.
Things weren’t immediately easy once she arrived in England, but she eventually went to a comprehensive school and then on to UCL – and today she is start-up founder, living in San Francisco where she has launched NeuroX Health.
As a girl from Afghanistan, Ms Mahfouz credits her access to technology with transforming her life, especially the education she was supported in by her engineer father.
Inspired by her brother, Ms Mahfouz’s company, NeuroX, enables people with bipolar disorder to manage their mental health by using personalised, data-driven treatment plans.
“I would not be able to go from being a child refugee… in Afghanistan to now building important technology businesses in California if it weren’t for the tech education that I had. So I think that on an individual case, it’s incredibly transformative and powerful.
“We’ve worked with women and girls throughout six continents and 60 locations where we’ve seen the direct impact and more importantly, the longer term socio-economic impact across the entire family and multiple generations when one individual has had the access to education and, more importantly, technical education,” she added.
“The digital age is here and we cannot have women left behind in the contributions that they can make and the unique perspectives that they can bring,” she explains.
Mary Lou Jepsen has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine – and 26 years ago she had a brain tumour removed which had been undetected for a decade.
She was shocked when she saw Apple recently launch the new Apple Watch and praising its increased screen size: “You know, if that’s an innovation, it’s time to move on.”
The skills and infrastructure that have gone into increasing the size of an Apple Watch display should be redeployed to fix some of the other electronics that society needs, she explained.
“Every single piece of [hospital] equipment that now costs a million dollars, a hundred thousand dollars… every single piece in the hospital should be less than a thousand dollars,” she said.
“There’s no physics reason this can’t be true. And if you do that, if you use the trillion dollar manufacturing infrastructure set-up for consumer electronics [but] for healthcare, we can get great healthcare for everybody.”
Her company, called Open Water, has been working on making an MRI machine that costs just $1,000 – with the cheapest currently available on the market available for more than $200,000 (£147,000).
Alongside Ms Mahfouz, she tells Sky News about her ideas for the role of women in the world of technology.